THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Owning exotic pets have become a trend in the capital. Along with dogs and cats, many opt for macaw birds, colourful fish, hamsters and spiders as their companions. TNIE went around the city to find out more about people and their little friends
When his dear Febe stopped moving for more than a day, 17-year-old Sebin Thomas was worried. Febe is Sebin’s pet tarantula — a hairy spider. The five-inch furry friend was only shedding his outer layer, reassured Google. Owning a spider as a pet will not be a surprise for those who know Hagrid, a beloved character from the Harry Potter series. Like Hagrid, many in the city are attached to their pet iguana, ball pythons, dormouse, smiling lizards, sugar gliders and monster fishes.
Weirder, the better
When the world got shut down during the pandemic, there was a high demand for pets in the city. From Chinese-origin toy dog breeds like Shih Tzu to macaw birds and goldfishes became people’s prefered companions for the stressful days. Some even opted for daring companions like snakes, spiders and even beetles.
There is a high market for these reptiles and amphibians among the youngsters, says Kamal V S, a techie-turned-pet -collector. “Though reptiles are cold-blooded, with good care and affection, they can be lovable pets”. Kamal says his pet Iguana comes from the lizard family and is easy to manage. “Be it snake or dog, you should consistently care for them and pay attention to their diet. You should research before buying exotic pets, as it is difficult to identify if they are sick,” he says.
Some of the new-age pet species are hedgehogs, fire belly newts from the salamander family, leopard gecko (smiling lizard), sugar gliders, dormice, and monster fish like Arapaima, colourful corn snakes and milk snakes. The new winged friends in the city are macaws, sun conure, rainbow lorikeet, cockatoo, cockatiel etc.
Hedgehogs, Syrian hamsters, sugar gliders and micro squirrels are some of the cute pets in trend. “Do you know mice are good companions? Just like in the film Ratatouille, they can become your best buddies Fancy mice, dumbo rats, gerbils, and even ‘peruchazhi’ can be good pets if we give them proper care,” says Kamal, who runs Wiggly Tales pet store.
“People are opting for non-poisonous snakes such as ball python as pets.”
Species like Iguana rely on plants and leaves, says Vaishak C M, one of the owners of Pets Club, which boasts of several exotic pets in the city. “Iguana needs a good dose of UV rays. You can feed them hibiscus flowers, moringa leaves and vegetables. Having spiders and other creatures as pets will help eliminate our fear also. However, the cost of these pets can go up to lakhs,” says Vaishak.
From dry baths to pet parks
Giving medicated baths for skin rashes, nail clipping, oil massage, etc, are the grooming procedures in vogue. The newly-opened Petoria Wellness Centre in Kowdiar offers boarding space and care for all pets. As monsoon is approaching, the contagious disease for dogs will be parvovirus, says Alan Davis Babu, one of the managing partners of the centre.
“Pets also need vaccination every year to prevent viral infections. We are giving a multi-component vaccine for dogs and cats,” says Alan. The facility also provides grooming for pets. Squirrels and rabbits can have a dry bath for skin issues. Here foam is applied to them and dried using pet wipes. Medicated baths and shampooing are for dogs and cats. Grooming is not complete with a good haircut — teddybear and puppy haircuts are trending on the list.How about an outing after that? Besides a wide variety of products and services, Bark’oke in Pattom has a pet park. “It is to create an activity space for pet parents and pets to relax and have fun,” says a staff.
DESSERTS AND PUPCAKES
Pet home baker Varsha Prabhakaran has a dedicated list of cakes and desserts for the ‘paw’ friends. Under her venture, The Barkery.Inc, Varsha provides homemade dog treats and cakes. Birthday cakes for dogs and cats are in high demand, says Varsha, who is also a dog lover. “Cakes come in half kg and one kilo. Chicken, fish, cream cheese, peanut butter, banana, etc, are the main ingredients. Peanut butter is a mix of ground peanut and honey. The diet for dogs and cats must be free from masala, sugar and salt. For frosting, I use homemade yoghurt,” says Varsha. She also provides dog treats similar to cookies, which have a shelf life of three months. Dognuts and pupcakes, too, are hot-sellers.